Aaron Estrada

Pistons, Aaron Estrada Agree To Exhibit 10 Deal

The Pistons and undrafted rookie free agent Aaron Estrada have reached an agreement on an Exhibit 10 contract, reports Jon Chepkevich of DraftExpress.com (Twitter link).

Estrada bounced around from school to school over the course of his five-year college career, playing for St. Peter’s, Oregon, Hofstra (for two seasons), and Alabama. In his final year of NCAA eligibility in 2023/24, the 6’4″ guard averaged 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in 30.9 minutes per game across 37 starts for the Crimson Tide.

While he made just 44.9% of his field goal attempts and 31.3% of his three-pointers this past season, Estrada’s rates were 46.5% and 34.4%, respectively, in his first four college seasons. He also knocked down 86.3% of his career free throws.

An Exhibit 10 contract is a non-guaranteed minimum-salary deal that doesn’t count against a team’s cap unless the player makes the regular season roster. It can be converted to a two-way contract before the season begins or can put a player in line to earn a bonus if he’s waived and then spends at least 60 days with his team’s G League affiliate.

Draft Workouts: Spurs, Suns, Pacers, Blazers, Lakers, Wolves, Thomas

The Spurs, who are widely expected to draft at least one guard next Wednesday, recently worked out both Stephon Castle of UConn and Devin Carter of Providence, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

As we relayed on Wednesday, recent mock drafts from ESPN and Bleacher Report both have San Antonio drafting Castle at No. 4, and the team is said to be high on Carter as well. Iko confirms as much, writing that the Spurs have “strong interest” in Carter, Castle, and Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard, with Carter’s private workout “resonating” among the team’s decision-makers.

Here’s more pre-draft workout news from around the NBA:

Pacific Notes: Hurley, Lakers, Kings, Suns

Appearing on the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (YouTube link), Dan Hurley said he didn’t use talks with the Lakers as leverage to secure a larger financial commitment from UConn, as Adam Zagoria of NJ.com relays. Hurley reportedly turned down a six-year, $70MM deal from L.A. and will receive about $20MM less in his new contract with the Huskies, which will be announced “soon,” a source told Zagoria.

This was never a leverage situation for me,” Hurley said Thursday. “I’ve had a contract situation in place for a couple of weeks, and the financial part in terms of salary has been done for a while. There’s some other parts like NIL and staff salaries and some different things that I want adjusted that I’m not comfortable with.

But the sense or the idea that this was just a conspiracy to get me a sweeter deal at UConn is just lazy and not [true]. It was truly a gut-wrenching decision for me because I was really — Sunday night going into Monday where I had kind of a deadline in my mind — I was like torn and I didn’t know really what I was going to do until I went to bed.”

However, Hurley did suggest the Lakers could have compelled him to leave UConn with a more lucrative offer.

To leave all that behind, there probably is a number,” Hurley said. “I don’t know what that is.”

J.J. Redick, who was previously viewed as the frontrunner in the Lakers’ head coaching search before Hurley’s surprising emergence, will formally interview for the position this weekend, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

Timberwolves Notes: Gobert, Finch, Towns, Draft Workout

Rudy Gobert, who was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year this week, is grateful to the Timberwolves organization for sticking by him after a rough first year in Minnesota, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes.

“When things didn’t go as smoothly as we wanted them to last year, they never doubted me,” Gobert said. “They have shown me love every day, pushing me to be better every day, and I really appreciate that.”

He also feels the entire city has embraced him after many league observers called the blockbuster trade with Utah a disastrous move during and after last season.

“I think we are trying to accomplish something bigger, but more importantly I think I’ve found a home,” he said. “I’ve found a team, a coaching staff, an organization and a city that has embraced me, and a group that has embraced me. I feel like it’s like a family. We are there for each other. We really care about one another.”

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Gobert missed Game 2 after the birth of his first child and was thrilled to watch his teammates dismantle the Nuggets in a 106-80 blowout, Dave McMenamin of ESPN relays. “It was incredible,” Gobert said. “I was exhausted, obviously, holding the baby and watching the game at the same time, but I had a little bit of emotions at the end because it felt like there was something special.”
  • Coach Chris Finch has been showing his toughness during the series, running the team shortly after undergoing knee surgery for a ruptured patella tendon. “He hops over on the crutches at times when he’s yelling at guys behind the bench,” Conley told Krawczysnki. “That passion he has for the game, it’s rubbing off on other guys. We’re doing a great job of keeping him involved, keeping him engaged and he’s doing a great job keeping on us and just being who he is.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns has won the league’s Social Justice award, Marc Spears of Andscape.com reports. Among other issues, Towns has championed voting rights for formerly incarcerated people. He is expected to be given the award prior to Game 3 on Friday.
  • The Wolves will be hosting a pre-draft workout on Thursday for six prospects, mainly potential second-rounders, the team’s PR department tweets. Isaiah Crawford (Louisiana Tech), Thierry Darlan (G League Ignite), Aaron Estrada (Alabama), A.J. Johnson (Illawarra Hawks), Riley Minix (Morehead State) and Jaylen Wells (Washington State) are the participants. Wells is ranked No. 54 on ESPN’s Best Available list, while Johnson is pegged at No. 62.

Draft Notes: G League Elite Camp, Carrington, Edwards, George

The NBA has officially announced the list of invitees for its 2024 G League Elite Camp, which will take place this weekend in Chicago. The 45-player list is made up of some of the top prospects who didn’t earn invites to next week’s draft combine, though the standout performers at the Elite Camp will be invited to stick around for the combine.

There are a few differences between the final list of participants and the initial 44-player list of invitees. After previously reporting that Johnell Davis had turned down his invitation while Jaylen Wells had been upgraded to a combine invite, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets that three more players from the original list won’t take part: Spanish big man Eli Ndiaye, former Wisconsin wing AJ Storr, and Arizona guard KJ Lewis.

Ndiaye’s season with Real Madrid is still in progress, which explains his absence. Storr appears to be focused on transferring to Kansas, while Givony speculates that Lewis may also end up withdrawing from the draft to return to Arizona.

With those five players not attending the Elite Camp, the NBA invited six more prospects to round out the 45-player field. Those final six invitees are USC guard Boogie Ellis, Alabama guard Aaron Estrada, Florida guard Zyon Pullin, North Florida guard Chaz Lanier, New Mexico guard Jaelen House, and Cairns Taipans (Australia) guard Taran Armstrong.

Here’s more on the 2024 NBA draft:

  • In a story for HoopsHype, Michael Scotto looked at several prospects whose stock appears to be on the rise ahead of the combine, starting with Pittsburgh’s Carlton Carrington, who jumped 25 spots to No. 27 in HoopsHype’s latest aggregate mock draft. A number of NBA executives who spoke to Scotto believe Carrington could be selected in the 15-30 range. “I think he can handle the ball and has good size,” one exec said. “I don’t know if he can guard anybody on our level at his position. He didn’t showcase an ability to create shots for himself. He did a good job of passing the ball.”
  • Kentucky’s Justin Edwards, who entered last season with lottery upside, saw his stock drop over the course of an up-and-down freshman season, but it has bounced back as of late, according to Scotto, who notes that Edwards is now widely viewed as a borderline first-round pick. “Edwards is a little older for a freshman (20) and isn’t the most in-shape guy,” one scout told Scotto. “There’s a Shabazz Muhammad comparison with Edwards that some people may not want to hear. When he’s on, there’s a Rodney Hood comparison to be made. He’s fine. I think you can win basketball games with him as a role player.”
  • DaRon Holmes II (Dayton), Hunter Sallis (Wake Forest), Tristan Da Silva (Colorado), Trey Alexander (Creighton), and Kyshawn George (Miami) are among several other prospects identified by Scotto as trending up. “I think Kyshawn is pretty good,” a veteran scout told HoopsHype. “He’s young and skilled. He’s big at 6-foot-8, can shoot, and can handle it. He’s going to need some years, but you’d invest in him. I’d pick him higher than a lot of other guys because of his age. He’s impressed me.”

Draft Notes: Banchero, Harper, Withdrawals, Boeheim, Combine, Mock Drafts

Paolo Banchero is expected to be among the first names off the board in next month’s draft, and the Duke star did some campaigning to be the No. 1 overall pick in an interview with ESPN following Tuesday’s lottery (video link).

Banchero earned second-team All-America honors during his freshman season with the Blue Devils, averaging 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 39 games. Possessing exceptional passing skills and offensive versatility for his 6’10” size, Banchero told the ESPN crew he patterns his game after players such as LeBron James, Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Carmelo Anthony and said he’ll be ready to contribute right away to whichever team drafts him.

“From day one, they’ll get versatility for sure,” Banchero said. “There’s not a position on the court where I’m not comfortable, with the ball in my hands or the ball off my hands. I’m going to be all right. I’m going to be an immediate impact because I’m ready physically and I’m ready mentally. I am ready to get to work.”

There’s more on the draft:

  • Rutgers forward Ron Harper Jr. has signed with Roc Nation Sports, officially ending his college career, according to Brian Fonseca of NJ.com. The senior earned honorable mention All-America honors, was a two-time all-Big Ten selection and helped the Scarlet Knights reach the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons after a 30-year absence.
  • Kyle Lofton, formerly of St. Bonaventure, has decided to withdraw from the draft, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. He will transfer to Florida for next season.
  • Andre Kelly, who played the last four years for California, is also taking his name out of the draft, Rothstein adds (Twitter link). He will use his extra year of eligibility to transfer to UC Santa Barbara.
  • Hofstra’s Aaron Estrada also plans to exit the draft and return to school, according to Rothstein (Twitter link).
  • Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim has worked out for the Knicks, Kings and Warriors and had an impressive showing at the G League Elite Camp, per Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog. Boeheim will hold a Pro Day in Chicago today.
  • Seven players from the Elite Camp were able to earn spots at the NBA’s draft combine, the G League announced on Twitter. They are LSU’s Darius Days, Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Lofton Jr., Connecticut’s Tyrese Martin, Seton Hall’s Jared Rhoden, Houston’s Marcus Sasser, Texas Tech’s Bryson Williams and Kansas’ Jalen Wilson.
  • Auburn forward Jabari Smith is number one on the list of top 20 prospects by John Hollinger of The Athletic. Banchero is the only other prospect in Hollinger’s top tier, and he ranks Purdue guard Jaden Ivey and Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren right below them.
  • Several new mock drafts were released after Tuesday’s lottery. Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic both have Smith going to the Magic at No. 1, followed by Holmgren to the Thunder at No. 2 and Banchero to the Rockets at No. 3. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer has Holmgren going to Orlando, Smith to Oklahoma City and Banchero to Houston.

MSU’s Max Christie Among Early Entrants For 2022 NBA Draft

The list of early entrants for the 2022 NBA draft continues to grow, as college players put their names into this year’s draft pool ahead of the April 24 deadline.

[RELATED: 2022 NBA Draft Dates, Deadlines To Watch]

Michigan State’s Max Christie is among the players who recently declared for the draft, announcing his intentions in a post on Instagram. The freshman shooting guard stated that he’ll test the draft waters, maintaining his remaining college eligibility for the time being as he gets feedback on his draft stock.

A full-time starter for the Spartans in 2021/22, Christie averaged 9.3 PPG and 3.5 RPG on .382/.317/.824 shooting in 35 games (30.8 MPG). Those numbers are modest, but the 6’6″ guard has shown the potential to develop into a stronger shooter and a solid defender, per ESPN’s Mike Schmitz. Christie ranks 41st overall on ESPN’s big board.

Here are a few more of the college players who have recently entered the draft pool:

Expected to stay in draft, forgoing remaining NCAA eligibility:

Testing draft waters: